White friends, I need you to let me know you're safe.

“I’m writing a new blog series about HIV now that we’re home,” I told her, barely balancing the phone between my chin and shoulder as I carried the basket of dirty clothes to the laundry room. Laundry still overwhelms me now, of course. It was even harder then as I was newly adjusting to our life as a family of eight. Going from three to six kids - all aged 6 and younger then - in one adoption is no joke.

“I’ve heard whispers that some people at church were worried about having their child in class with mine, but no one has said anything directly to us. So, have you heard anything?”

The silence was so loud on the other end that I thought we had gotten disconnected. I said her name and “hello?” 

She said, “I’m here,” as I moved laundry from the washer to the dryer.

I thought, perhaps, I needed to rephrase the question. I wanted to be clear that I wasn’t fishing for her to tell on anyone or name names or anything like that. This time, I asked, “Are there any specific concerns people have that I could address on the blog to clear things up?”

“Well,” she started and then paused. “Well, no. I haven’t heard anything from anyone else, but… well, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this.”

“Huh?” I dropped a couple items. I couldn’t bring myself to pick them up. Something about her tone made me freeze. I waited on her words.

“Well, we’ve decided we aren’t comfortable with playdates anymore. We love your kids. We do. But with HIV, we just don’t know. [Husband] isn’t okay with that. I didn’t know how to tell you.”


I’m honestly not sure how I ended the phone call. I know I finished swapping the laundry. I remember emailing her with fact sheets and links, in hopes that this was a simple lack of education. My husband and hers sat down to talk it out. We tried to assure them that our child with HIV posed no risk to theirs.

(After all, HIV – other than mother-to-child transmission – is spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and sexual intercourse. I think we can all agree that those activities should be off the table for playdates, right? So, no problem.)

They were resolute, though: they could tolerate our child with theirs in Sunday school, but we didn’t want to risk any more contact than that. We could still be friends, they offered. (That didn’t really work, as you might imagine.)

I felt numb for weeks. I stopped inviting people over, not knowing who else might reject us. I felt more unloved and betrayed than I had since my childhood. No one seemed safe if this best friend wasn’t, I figured.

That was almost three years ago. Yet I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot this week. As I continue to lament what this past election showed me about our country, I'm lamenting anew at the denial of justice for Walter Scott and his family in Charleston. His name became a hashtag in April 2015 because Officer Slager shot him eight times in the back while he was 17 feet away. We watched the video. It also showed Slager depositing his taser next to Scott’s lifeless body, planting evidence to match the lies he planned to tell, saying Scott had his taser when he never did. (Not while he was alive, anyway.)

If we hadn’t seen the video, I think of how the narrative might have been different. If we hadn’t seen the video, I think of how many of my friends would have believed Slager’s lies. If we hadn’t seen the video, I think white America would have ignored another black man’s blood.

But even with the video, the trial ended in a mistrial, a miscarriage of justice, as the jury was able to render a verdict but proved unwilling to do their job.

I feel numb again, like I did after Tamir and Trayvon and Sandra and Keith and Philando and Alton and Eric and Levar and John and Tyre and Laquan and Ezell and Akai and Aiyana and Dontre and Jonathan and Samuel and Freddie and Rekia and others. (The list is too long, my friends. Too long. Lord, have mercy.) I grew up the daughter of a law enforcement officer, taught to respect the badge. Now I watch story after story play out of those wearing badges who neither respect their own code or the humanity of those with skin like three of our children. I feel so numb. No one feels safe when officers aren’t.

And if those officers are just a few bad apples, then why the lack of accountability? Why aren’t their colleagues the first in line to say that this sort of behavior doesn’t represent their work? Why isn’t the justice system willing to be just when the offender looks more like my father than my son?

Just like in those dreary months following my former friend’s declaration, I’m not sure who I can trust now. I’ve heard white friends defend the hatefulness of Trump’s campaign and followers, as if their words didn’t sting. I’ve seen posts and comments about how black people just need to not run and then they won’t die. I’ve been told, “your kids will be fine because you’re raising them right,” with no realization of the racist implication held in those words, the suggestion that black mothers and fathers aren’t good parents like we are.

Somedays it’s easier to just avoid you, white friends, unless you’ve explicitly told me or shown me you are safe. I know silence doesn’t equal racism. I’m not saying it does. I'm not saying that being quiet and white equates to being racist. But I am saying that silence from white people right now equates to uncertainty for me. It means you’re a wild card. It means you might be safe for us but I can’t know that for sure. It means that if I’ve never seen you show solidarity with those who have experienced racism, then I can’t know where you stand when we do.

And when I’m feeling particularly raw, I won’t turn to you if I don’t know you’re trustworthy. I can’t. I’ve been hurt too often for that. While for many white friends, the Slager mistrial feels like just another news story, it feels personal to people of color (and those of us raising black children). As I see white friends shocked by the mistrial, most of my friends of color aren’t surprised; they’re weary from carrying pain we’ve refused to even acknowledge. How can we heed the words of Galatians 6:2 to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens if we try to pretend they don’t exist?

Please, friends, try to understand. Listen. Ask. Engage. Enter the hard conversations so that we can all grow. (As an example, you’ll find an amazingly helpful conversation under my friend Laura’s comment on my post here. That might be a good starting place.)

And once you can empathize, even just a little, then do something. I’m not asking you to speak out in all the ways I do. What a boring world it would be if we all used our voices in the same way! If posting on social media isn’t your thing, I get that. I really do. (Some days, it maybe shouldn’t be my thing either.)

Maybe doing something means having a conversation with a neighbor. Maybe it means texting a black friend to say, “I know the past month has been full of heavy race-related news… how are you feeling?” Maybe it means clicking “like” on something to let a friend know they aren’t alone. Maybe it means something more, something bigger, something bolder. Or maybe it means something simple, something in your school, something in your church, something in your home.

I tried to patch things up with my old friend, but our relationship basically ended with that phone call. She wasn’t willing to treat our child like anything but a threat. I learned then, though it broke my heart, that sometimes you have to walk away from friendships. I still love her. I still miss her. It's been almost three years, and I still can’t type these words without tears. My heart is still broken over this loss, to be honest. I’m still grieving.

But a friend isn’t a friend if she can’t see my children as fully human and worthy of love and belonging. A friend isn’t a friend if he chooses the fear of my children over the truth about them, whether the topic be HIV or race or immigration or disability or gender. A friend isn’t a friend if I share sorrow and the knee jerk reaction is defensiveness instead of care again and again. (Once or twice gets a pass, though I’ll call out that behavior for what it is. But we all have bad days. I don’t think it helps any of us to drop friends lightly.)

What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to know which friends are true friends right now. It’s hard to know if all our friends are safe. It’s hard to know who would stand with us if it had been my son murdered with evidence planted next to him instead of Judy Scott’s son.

In other words, white friends, I need you to let me know you’re safe. I don’t know how to guess at that anymore. Too many people who have shown us love in every other way have surprised us with indifference or hurtful responses about racism.

And – while I know HIV status and race aren’t the same – I can’t bear to have one more conversation with someone who I think is safe who instead replies, “Actually, I’m the one who doesn’t want my kids playing with yours.” 

Outrage, apathy, or - perhaps - a third option?

Brock Turner went viral a few months ago, when he was sentenced a mere six months for the violent rape he committed at a Stanford party. Then he dropped off our social media feeds. Now, as he was released Friday after a mere 3 months, we're outraged anew.

A year ago, we collectively grieved over the image of Aylan Kurdi, a dead refugee boy washed up on a shore after drowning. Then we got quiet again. A couple weeks ago, our feeds lit up again, this time with Omran Daqneesh sitting bloodied and stunned in an ambulance, wiping his dirty hands on the seat just like my boys do. Our outrage and profound sorrow over Aylan had faded but returned rekindled for Omran.

And then, even as news spread that Omran's brother had died, we stepped away from our outrage again.

I get it. I do. We can't live perpetually in outrage. We can't nourish our souls with a buffet of only agony, anger, and anguish. When we feel helpless in the face of our world's trauma, we have to look away sometimes or we'll be consumed. 

But I don't think our only options are to fall headfirst into hopelessness or turn our backs on suffering. There has to be a third way. I'm sure of it. 

If we throw up walls of outrage, they'll crumble in time. Outrage alone can't stand. Outrage isn't self-supporting. Outrage can't be kindled long term. But what if we embraced the outrage as a right and just response to outrageous events but didn't stop there?

What if we build foundations under the outrage to turn it into something useful and sustainable? What if we transformed at least some of that anger into action or education? What if we showed great love by listening compassionately to our neighbors? 

I know why we don't. Outrage is comfortable. Outrage is socially acceptable. Outrage comes in waves that we know will return to the sea of public anger. Outrage feels like a controlled response to a world spinning out of control.

But outrage isn't vulnerable. We don't move past outrage because we don't want to be honest with the next steps. We let our emotional fires dull to a simmer, ignoring them until the next story comes along to fan the flames into a roar once again. The previous inferno is forgotten, as we've moved on to the next one. 

Some fires are frivilous, and some are needed. I'm all for letting the petty pyres burn out on their own. But any flames worth fanning deserve to be seen all the way through, beyond the outrage and into something more. I was encouraged when my Facebook feed filled with people calling for justice when Brock Turner only got six months - three months with good behavior - for rape. For. Rape. I reminded us of the power of our words when people said her life was ruined. (It isn't.) I thanked friends for their outrage, writing for the first time publicly about my sexual assault history. 

And then I watched as we moved on to the next trending story, and the silence around rape dropped off. I shared another story and then another and then another of white rapists getting nothing more than a slap on the wrists, of our "justice" system showing more concern for their futures than for their actions. Sadly, Brock Turner's paltry sentence isn't uncommon. Brock's name is known and evoked our outrage, but we mostly ignored David Becker and John Enochs and James Wilkerson. All three are also young white rapists who got light sentences for their crimes, often with judges expressing more concern for their futures than the futures of the girls they violated. This. Trend. Is. Not. Okay. And our magnification of one case and ignorance of others isn't okay either.

I get it, though. Outrage is exhausting. So I'm not asking you to stay outraged. We can't do that. Or if we could, it wouldn't be healthy or sustainable.

I'm writing this to declare that there's a third way. It's not all outrage or apathy. It's not either ranting or silence. It's not the choice between floods of feelings or numbness. 

The third way is the way of listening with empathy. The end result will be action for some of us on a particular issue. For others, the end result will be knowledge. We won't all feel compelled to do something about every cause, and that's okay. But we are called to care for and love our neighbor, so listening well is the bare minimum for that. 

(Want an example of what that might look like?  Read this story. Listen and listen well to voices like Elizabeth Smart's as she points out the problems with religious purity culture, and sit with that before you push back about how sexual sin matters. Of course it does. But Elizabeth isn't arguing for us to abandon all sexual mores but rather sharing how our language and approach can do harm.) 

And action? We can't all be actors for every injustice. (I've tried. That's a sure path to burn out.) God designed us each uniquely. The beauty therein is that my passion and your passion don't have to be the same, but together we can create a rich tapestry of interwoven actions that collectively glorifying God and edify others.

(For example, some friends as well as other folks I deeply respect created The Compassion Collective as a response to Aylan and Omran and so many other vulnerable children. They chose the third way. Their efforts are a beautiful display of action, and I'm joining in a small way with my financial contributions.)

You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.
— Maya Angelou

Listen well, friends. And, yes, be angry. But don't stay there. Instead, decide that you will learn and maybe even act so that the world might be made different by what is born out of our outrage. 

Stop calling suicide a choice.

A few Sundays ago, we spoke openly about suicide and overdose at church. Our community lost someone to each in that week. I’m thankful we spoke openly about the pain instead of avoiding the spiritual practice of lament, but one word was voiced twice, once by our campus pastor and once by our senior pastor.


I think we choose (pun intended) this word because it makes us feel comfortable. We don’t like to admit that mental illness is real and can be fatal. If someone can succumb to depression like someone succumbs to leukemia, then life feels scary. Anyone can get sick like that, we realize, and that reality is just a little too real for us. And we’re afraid if we call suicide the fatal outcome of depression for some, then we might give permission to those on the brink of life and death to choose the latter.

So we minimize the fear by calling it the choice of the deceased.

But I don’t think that’s fair or accurate. I know when I attempted suicide a couple decades ago, I didn’t see choices. I just saw darkness. I just saw pain. I just wanted to stop feeling so much. I wanted a choice. Genuinely, I did. But the only option I could see was the blade against my skin. Suicide isn’t chosen; it’s the result of when a person’s pain exceeds the resources available for coping with pain.

Obviously, I’m still here. I didn’t die that day. I consider that God’s grace, but I don’t understand it because one of the best friends I’ve ever had did die from depression almost a year and a half ago. How can I call my living grace when she died after having survived previous suicidal episodes?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that Melinda and I were texting earlier that week about the dark place in which she had found herself. We had talked about it the week before over coffee and donuts. Her doctors knew. Her husband knew. Her sons knew. Her mom and sister knew. We were all standing with her, holding her up, cheering for her. She was fighting and seeking help and taking meds and making all the choices you make if you want to live.

Until she didn’t see choices anymore.

Three Sundays ago was the first time I let myself cry at our new church. I hate crying in public. I think it’s fine if someone else does it, but it feels like weakness when I do. (Yes, I’m working on being kinder to myself.) But after talking about the two young men who were no longer living, we sang the hymn It Is Well. We sang that song at Melinda’s funeral too.

Well, some people sang it then. As for me, I leaned over to Lee and whispered, “I refuse to sing this. It. Is. Not. Fucking. Well. With. My. Soul.”

(I don’t think I’ve ever cussed on the blog, but here we are. Someday I’ll write a post about why I think most of the passages in scripture about profane language are more concerned with the sort of vile remarks Trump makes than with certain four letter words we’ve deemed unspeakable. For now, I’ll simply say that in some moments – like this one and like when I replied with the same f word to my friend Lisa’s text a few months later that her four year old son had died – polite language fails us. Or it does me, at least. I'm a work in progress, after all)

I don’t think I chose suicide the day I attempted it. I don’t think Melinda chose it the days she tried or the day she died. I don’t think the two young men in our church community chose overdose or suicide.

I do think, though, that we all make choices every day that move us toward life or death. When Jesus says that he came that we might live life abundantly, I don’t think the takeaway is that life will always feel good. I do think, though, that we can choose life and keep choosing it. We can show up, even when it’s hard. We can defy death and despair by doing the next loving thing. We can look for lovelies even on dreary days. We can sit in the ashes of life and still find beauty. We can hold out support for others when their pain is exceeding their resources, and we can let others extend it to us when we’re in that imbalanced place. We can believe we are enough - even when we don't feel that way - because we were created by One who is more than enough. We can choose joy and bravery and light, and we can encourage others to join us in that choice.

And we can do so without painting those who succumb to depression as ones who rejected joy or weren’t brave or chose the shadows. That’s not the truth. None of us – even those who die from mental illness – are defined by what we’ve done in our darkest moments.

Suicide is a lot of things: A tragedy. A million papercuts on the hearts of those still living. A crushing end to the battle against depression. An anguish-driven explosion, sending shrapnel in more directions than anyone could predict beforehand. A painful reminder that this sin-soaked world isn’t right or just or perfect and that happy endings aren’t promised.  

But suicide is not a choice. And I think we need to stop saying it is. 

Rape isn’t about consent, and rape isn’t sex

I’m tired of news stories about rape. I am. But I hope we keep reporting on these assaults whenever they happen.

As we do, though, can we stop talking about how we need to teach our boys about consent? Of course, we do. We need to teach both boys and girls those lessons. Discussions of consent are healthy in sex education and self-respect. But rape isn't about consent.

And can we stop – as a local news station did yesterday – using headlines about “sex with children” to describe child rape? Because rape isn't about sex.


Rape isn’t simply sex minus consent. It isn’t.

The first time I was raped, I was confused. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I just knew that I didn’t want what was happening.

Then I realized I knew the word for this: rape. By the time that clicked, it was over. I thought, “That was rape. That was sex. Things like this don’t happen to nice girls.”

I was right about one thing: it was rape.

I was wrong about others: Rape happens to nice girls all the time. And rape is not sex.

Sex isn’t just the logistical act of one person entering another’s body. Sex involves two parties. When a child is assaulted, we don’t say she had sex. No, we recognize that a child can’t be a willing party to that. By legal definition, consent isn’t possible from a minor or from someone with diminished mental functioning, due to disability, injury, or the influence of alcohol or drugs.

There is no such thing as non-consensual sex. Let me say that again. There is no. such. thing. as non-consensual sex. That, my friends, is rape. It is not sex.

The first time I had sex was on my honeymoon, the first time I chose and consented to that activity. No, Lee wasn’t the first man to enter my body. But before him, I hadn’t experienced sex; I had been raped.

Sex is about giving yourself to someone else. Rape is about taking. Sex is about intimacy. Rape is about violence. Sex is about two people sharing their bodies. Rape is about one person violating another.

We should teach children and youth about consent, but that’s just part of teaching them about their bodies. We tell them that no one gets to touch you without your permission. We say that to show respect to others, we don’t act entitled to anyone else’s body. If someone says you have to hug them, you can say no, even if it’s grandma. You control your body. If someone asks you to stop wrestling – even if you were both just roughhousing moments before – you stop. When the doctor checks out my kids’ privates during their annual physicals, she says each time, “Can I look under this sheet to take a look?” and waits for an answer, teaching this lesson in yet another way. We don’t access anyone else’s body without consent, and no one else gets to access ours without consent.

Consent is about respect. Consent is an important lesson. Consent matters.

But consent is separate from rape. Rape, by definition, involves a lack of consent. Rape rarely involves confusion about consent. The rapist either doesn’t care enough to confirm consent, or – more often – the rapist is exercising control over the other person’s body with the lack of consent being the whole point of the act.

For example, after the Stanford rape case, many spoke out about consent. I found that confusing. I don’t believe for a moment that this rapist thought that what he did in darkness behind a dumpster involved a willing party. The testimony of her rescuers on bicycles made that clear. In so many other cases, we talk about consent as if the sexual offender was simply confused. But rape isn’t a misunderstanding. It’s a crime.

When we turn discussions of rape into teachable moments about consent, we miss the point. Rape isn’t about consent. Rape isn’t a simple misunderstanding. Rape isn’t sex.

I haven’t always understood this. For a long time, I didn’t talk about my rapes. I first started processing them with others when I was engaged. Two women were among the first I told; I’ll call them A and B. A said, “I hate what he did to you. He took something special that was supposed to be sacred between you and Lee.” I told B about what A said, and she said no with firm tone to her voice. “No, Shannon. No. Don’t believe that. I hate what he did to you too, but what he did was rape. Loving sex between husband and wife is special and sacred and, well, awesome.” We were on the phone, but I could hear the blush in her voice. Sex wasn’t something she talked about often. I didn’t say anything, surprised by her pushback and candidness. B continued, “What he did wasn’t sex, Shannon. It was rape. What you’ll have with Lee can be different.”

And she was right, though it took a lot of therapy and healing for that to be possible. What happened on my honeymoon was so different than what happened so many years before that. Rape isn’t sex.

Stealing isn’t simply borrowing something without consent. No, it’s stealing. Murder isn’t simply taking a life without consent. No, it’s murder. Assault isn’t simply hurting someone without consent. No, it’s assault. When someone vandalizes someone else’s property, we don’t say they were breaking things or spray painting without consent. No, we call it vandalism. Even though each of these crimes involves lack of consent from the victim, we understand that consent isn’t the primary problem. The crime is.

Likewise, rape isn’t simply sex without consent. No, it’s rape.

I’m still tired of news stories about rape. But I’m hopeful that as we keep shining a light on the problem, we’ll learn to use more care with our words. Let’s frame rape as the problem here, not consent. And let’s call rape rape instead of wrongly framing it as sex.  

a summer in front of the camera

This will go down as the summer of cameras.

It all started a year or so ago. First, my girls wrote an impassioned letter asking for more diversity in Barbie dolls. That led to an invitation to be part of an American Girl (also owned by Mattel) segment on Good Morning America. Then, as we prepared to leave for NYC, our local news did a piece on them. 

As we hung out in the green room, our family was conspicuous. (Okay, let’s be honest. Everywhere we go, our family is conspicuous.) The girls had their moment, we had a wonderful trip to New York City, and then we returned home. 

More than seven months have passed, but when one of the Good Morning America producers needed a family to feature for a Deals & Steals product feature, they remembered us. We were in a vet hospital waiting room when they called. Who is calling from New York?, I wondered.

“Hi, Shannon! This is Julia from Good Morning America.”

Um, wait. What?

She asked if we’d be part of an upcoming piece. I didn’t know it would involve a trunk full of goodies. I said yes. We figured out details the night before with the ABC11 team. That morning, I had one of my heroes Robin Roberts in my ear, welcoming the Dingle family to their segment and later thanking our local affiliate “for bringing the Dingles to us.”


Just a few weeks prior, we had been featured by a different ABC11 team, Troubleshooter Diane Wilson. She shared the story of our struggle to get a lift for Zoe’s motorized wheelchair. Like the first GMA segment, this began as a blog post. Someone sent it to Diane, and she contacted us, and the segment aired while we were at the beach. A precious woman named Angel saw it and called her dad, who owns Medical Supply Superstore in Durham. One thing led to another, and they were giving us a lift for the van at no charge. Diane and her team ran the story tonight at 5:50pm, and the video will be up with the written story here.

(Side note: Sorry to all the other networks, but ABC11 has won my allegiance. They are dear to us now. NBC, you have me right now with your Olympics coverage, but I’m just using you. I’ll be back with my first love, ABC11, for the news as soon as you leave Rio.)

And today we had more filming at our house, as you see in all the pictures throughout this post. This time we spent most of the morning and early afternoon shooting footage for a short piece about a non-profit we love. The story of Hope Reins and their work is going to be told through the lens of our family, in particular one of our children’s stories.

Friday we head out to Hope Reins to do more filming on site there. Our kids are excited, and I expect it’ll be a delightful day. And then? No more cameras in our future, other than me behind my camera taking back to school pictures soon.

(Not. Soon. Enough. I love my people dearly. But I love them better when someone else loves them for part of the day and when we all have our predictable routine back.)

 A few days ago, one of my kids asked when the “popcorn-rotsy” (paparazzi) would start following us. You know, since we’re getting so famous now. “Internet famous,” one corrected. “Um, that’s the biggest kind of famous nowadays,” the other replied.

Bless it all.

All this filming has me thinking about all our stories, both those on main stages and those behind the scenes. We’ve spent more time in front of cameras this summer than ever before. More than one comment has been made about a reality show for us. We were actually contacted once to be on one; we said no thanks. I’m an extrovert, and I’m thankful for all the good that’s come from being in the camera’s eye, but I’m also feeling a little overexposed at this point.

We all have a public version of ourselves and a private one. Authenticity is having those match as closely as possible. I’m not saying we go out in public in our pajamas, but our hearts and integrity are the same in our homes as in our schools, as in our churches, as in our neighborhoods, as in how we treat our best friend, as in how we treat the waiter, as in how we treat the presidential candidate we like the least, and so on. When we’re in front of cameras, I think there’s a temptation to portray the ideal self we want to be instead of the real self we are… and when we do that often enough, that real self gets lost.

This past year has involved a lot of rediscovery of my real self. Not too long after I started leading the special needs ministry at our old church, a well-meaning mentor forged connections for me to speak at national children’s ministry events. In hindsight, I don’t think I was ready. I was 29 with young children, trying hard to live up to what this pastor saw in me. I exhausted myself, only realizing later that I didn’t have to prove anything. He introduced me to those people and pitched me as a speaker because he already believed in me.

The problem? I didn’t believe in me.

I’ve spoken at more than 20 conferences all over the country, from Washington to Pennsylvania and California to Florida and Texas to Illinois and more. And still, I ended up in my therapist’s office for the first time last fall because that external affirmation wasn’t enough. All the invitations and likes and positive feedback were nice, sure. But instead of taking them as evidence that I had proven myself, I saw each as a fluke. “Someday,” I’d think, “they’ll all realize I’m a nobody who doesn’t belong here among real speakers and bloggers and writers.” I almost didn’t launch this new website, even after I had finished the design, because I didn’t think I was worthy of it.

You see, it doesn’t matter how many news stories or cameras are in your life if you’re still hustling like you have something to prove. It doesn’t matter if a blog post goes viral if you are certain you’re a one-hit wonder. It won’t matter if you’re featured by Christianity Today, Slate, and Daily Kos in the same summer if you consider all the positive comments to be off-base but all the negative ones on-target.  

When people ask why I haven’t written a book yet, I don’t give the real answer. I say something a little different each time, and the reasons aren’t lies. But they aren’t the reason, the primary one. I’ve never admitted it publicly: 

I haven’t written a book yet because I’m not sure my voice matters. I’m not sure I really have something meaningful to say. I might have the word tattooed on my wrist, but I’m still not sure I’m really enough.

The cameras have been lovely, truly. The conferences have too. But? I’m looking forward to some time without travel or news crews, some moments once school starts when even my children’s eyes aren’t on me. I’m looking forward to quiet in my home when it’s just me and my dog and my Bible. I’m wanting to get to know the real me again and to let God reshape me into someone so confident in him that I don’t need to prove myself to others.

And? I'm hoping to dust off my book proposal drafts to get serious about one or more of them. It's time.

I’ve enjoyed the summer in front of cameras. I have. But at the same time I’m grateful for the coming days out of the limelight. For everything, there is a season, after all.